Nadia L. King (text) and Alisa Knatko, Claire Malone Changes the World, Dixi Books, November 2019, 32 pp., RRP $35.99 (hbk), ISBN 9786197458794
Claire Malone doesn’t have time to play. She’s too busy on her devices — following the 24-hour news cycle, knowing everything, and churning out letters about her concerns. One day she notices a rundown playground, and, instead of just firing off a missive, she decides to mobilise other people. This time the prime minister writes back, the playground is replaced, and Claire decides to sleep and play and stop writing letters. Until the next issue rears its head.
I’ll admit I was confused by this book. It has a strong didactic vibe, but I got to the end and couldn’t figure out what the lesson was. Get off your device? Be a more proactive citizen? Be less outraged? Collaborate instead of being a keyboard warrior? Get out in the real world? I couldn’t decide what I was supposed to think.
My seven-year-old wasn’t at all flummoxed. He shut the book and penned a letter to the prime minister, demanding that he reopen schools because ‘parents don’t know what they are doing.’ (I didn’t have the heart to tell him that if ‘Mr Morsern’ had his way, we’d all be back at school… or that Mum has a little bit of an idea what she’s doing thanks to a bunch of teaching experience and a few degrees in education).
If a seven-year-old found it rousing, then Claire Malone Changes the World is probably a useful book to add to your teaching arsenal. It’s a little bit slippery in terms of its themes, but it’s bright and cheerful and might inspire more kids to want to change their world. I will recommend it for that reason. But you should take my recommendation with a grain of salt, because apparently, I don’t know what I am doing.
Reviewed by Liz Patterson